Today we visited the town of Napier, our final stop on the North Island of New Zealand. It was the site of an earthquake that leveled the town. When they rebuilt, they decided to rebuild all the structures in an Art Deco style. It makes for beautiful architecture. As a result, one of our activities was a tour of the city with an emphasis on the Art Deco style and the history of the makeover. I chose the alternate program and headed to the headlands of Kidnappers Bay to visit a gannet colony. Bird colonies are unique places with not only hundreds of birds at the nesting sites but also a swirl of birds overhead as they continually come and go from nests. These colonies are magical places where we can behold a celebration of life. Check out our photos to see just a few images of our time at the colony.
National Geographic Orion
As the captain of trusty National Geographic Orion continued onward in the itinerary, we said a bittersweet goodbye to the Australian territorial waters surrounding Macquarie Island. As the amazing, remote island landscape drifted away in our rearview, a new day dawned for our adventure. Guests and staff took the leisurely morning at sea to enjoy the open ocean. We were gently rocked into a state of relaxation as the swell pushed our beloved ship side to side. As our morning progressed, guests were treated to a rousing presentation on the enthralling life of naturalist Jayden O’Neill. His knowledge of the practices of a Patagonia toothfish vessel was interspersed with anecdotes and tales from his 124 days at sea, because 125 days would have just been too many! After a delicious lunch, each guest and staff member performed another “biosecurity blitz” to ensure that any small seeds or sediment that may have tried to escape Macquarie Island would not be transferred to the next incredibly unique and diverse environment. Undersea specialist Kelly Morgan presented about Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) during our afternoon tea, giving us a lesson in governmental protection of the waters surrounding New Zealand and the Sub-Antarctic Islands. Just when we thought the day was coming to a close as everyone finished dessert, the keen eyes of our Expedition Leader and crew members on the bridge spotted a spout from a whale off in the distance. Slowing down and adeptly maneuvering the ship to offer passengers a great view, the team on the bridge stood side by side with guests in awe of the sight of two fin whales. As the sun started to go down over the horizon, guests wielded binoculars, photography equipment, wide eyes, and giant smiles. We were delighted by the sight of a large baleen whale surfacing and displaying its dorsal fin, a quintessential body part and a helpful identification tool! The sun set on an amazing day at sea with golden hour light beaming across the surface of the open ocean as we continued our journey to our new destination…the Auckland Islands.